Interview: Singer Monica Dogra on upcoming EP Seeing Red, indie music scene and more
Mumbai-based artiste Monica Dogra has earned high praise for her effortless portrayal of unusual characters (in films like Dhobi Ghat and David) and more importantly, for her musical sensibilities and vocal prowess. One half of the alternative, electronic rock duo Shaa’ir and Func, Monica is all set to release her EP Seeing Red, which she classifies as ‘global bass’. “It is a mix of bass, trap, and hip-hop. I’ve been working on this EP for the better part of two years,” says the musician, who will be performing a brand new set with songs from this EP at her upcoming gig in the city. “I have been to Hyderabad over the years to perform. My favourite part of the city is definitely its food. I’m a sucker for the spiciness of the biryani!” she adds.
Best of both worlds
Having lived for extended periods both in the USA and India, Monica’s musical inspirations come from ‘all things beautiful’. “I was raised on Hindu devotional music. But, I secretly loved hip-hop, Tupac and Wu-Tang. I also loved reggae, and then, I discovered rock ’n’ roll,” recollects the 31-year-old. After studying musical theatre at the New York University, Monica moved to Mumbai, where she started making music. “I met amazing musicians in India at jams and parties in the middle of the night. Before I knew it, Randolph (Correia) and I had formed a band and we wrote our debut album within the first six months. I often say that India chose me....this is my home. I was meant to be here,” she adds, who is best known for her songs, Shiver and her album, Spit.
Her recent collaboration with Abhishek Bhatia (known by his stage name Curtain Blue), for the electronic track Spell, has been nominated for Best India Act in the 2018 MTV EMA. That apart, Monica has also been in the news for being a judge on season three of The Stage, an English music reality show. “I love the job! The Stage has definitely changed my life. It gives me so much hope to see such insanely talented people from the farthest corners of the country and to have the gift of stepping into this beautiful portal where nothing matters but music every day. It is such a blessing, truly,” she shares.
A pioneer in the country’s indie music scene, Monica considers the older definition of indie unsuitable now. “I would like to redefine what it means to be ‘indie’. It’s a huge industry giving birth to stars! We are brand ambassadors, we are content creators, we are reshaping the cultural landscape of India in a way that feels truthful and inclusive, at least that is my hope. The future is bright, indeed,” she says, adding that her favourites from the circuit include Prateek Kuhad, Anushka Manchanda, Rohan Rajadyaksha and Curtain Blue.
Apart from her triumph with music, Monica has also created a space of her own in Indian cinema. After her guest appearance in Farhan Akhtar’s Rock On!! in 2008, she played the lead role in Kiran Rao’s directorial debut, Dhobi Ghat, opposite Aamir Khan. “I got Dhobi Ghat the following year (2011), and then boom! Everything exploded. But it happened accidentally. I have done a number of arthouse films since then. I think I will definitely write my own film one day and hopefully, direct it,” shares Monica.
At Tabula Rasa — Cafe & Bar.
October 14, 8 pm onwards.